February is National Children’s Dental Health Month
As we finish off the last of our Valentine’s Day chocolates, it is a good time to celebrate February’s lesser claim to fame: February is National Children’s Dental Health Month.
This month is a time to raise awareness around children’s oral health. Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood illness. It is five times more prevalent than asthma, and can be every bit as disruptive to a child’s ability to learn. The pain and suffering endured by children with dental disease can impact their ability to learn and grow, their speech development and overall health. The Surgeon General reports that nationwide, kids miss 51 million school hours each year because of dental-related illnesses. Children who suffer from tooth decay have, on average, lower grade point averages than students with healthier teeth. Poor oral health can also cause children to suffer low self-esteem due to visible decay or missing teeth and delayed speech development and can cause poor concentration. Far too many New York State children suffer from dental disease even though it is largely preventable; a statewide oral health survey revealed one in four New York third graders has untreated decay.
It is vitally important to increase preventive measures, coverage of and access to dental care among underserved children and families in our communities. After all, investing in the prevention of tooth decay in children will help maintain their health as they enter adulthood and will ultimately benefit the State in lower dental treatment costs.
Good oral health can help children stay healthy throughout the year and the rest of their lives. Visit our Oral Health resources page for more information on our work in children’s oral health and check out resources for Children’s Dental Health Month from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association.